Discretion is one of your most valuable assets. In your career, friendships, and financial decisions. Discretion is directly linked to your reputation, and your reputation is priceless.
I have a co-worker whose financial and career choices are not working for her. It’s hard to watch, especially as I see previous versions of myself in her actions and inactions. I listen. If asked, I offer advice. Mainly, I just hope that she will stop making choices that are not serving her – the only polite thing to do.
My coworker owns her home and supports her extended family in it. A close-knit family can be a great thing. However, it can also be an emotional and financial stressor. Her family does not contribute to the household income, but wants to direct her income to luxury goods that she does not want. The guilt trips are incredible and painful to even hear about.
“My parents died. I need luxuries because life is short. You have not given me a grandchild. The least you can do is buy me a luxury car.” ~Mother
BRUTAL. Unfair. Unkind. Untrue. You do not owe anyone children. You do not owe others luxuries. You do not deserve to be manipulated. What her mother is doing is not right.
My coworker has a brutally long commute. She is exhausted. Before the luxury car demand, she had decided that her family could continue living in her home, but that she would rent closer to work. However, with her mother’s demand for a luxury car to replace a perfectly good car that now bores her, my coworker’s plan to move and greatly increase her time and happiness is delayed.
She and I discussed this briefly, and I pointed out that my coworker is not saving for retirement. Her mother is stealing her ability to protect her future self through this emotional and financial manipulation. Coworker agreed, but “cannot” be a bad daughter and family member. She feels like she is drowning in obligations, but cannot, yet, say no to her family.
Our work environment is toxic. We are merely visitors in it, but we see the shenanigans play out for the career-folks at our job-site. One of the middle managers quit with two hours’ notice. My coworker and I discussed the manager’s departure and wondered who would be the next to abandon ship. I suggested that the incompetent one would be unlikely to apply or be hired elsewhere. My coworker was offended.
“How could you want to harm someone’s money???”
I see that the incompetent one is a bad employee and would have already lost her position due to negligence in a better-run workplace. It would be hard for her to even get a good recommendation as her superiors think little of her. This set my coworker over the edge. She likes the incompetent one as a person.
Being a friendly person is not enough. A recommendation is about someone’s personality fit, but it is also about someone’s fitness to perform the job duties competently. When you offer a recommendation, you are telling someone to rely upon your reputation and discernment. You are telling them that your opinion matters.
I asked my coworker what sort of recommendation she could reasonably offer on behalf of the incompetent one. My coworker, without admitting she would lie, insisted that it is just too unkind to not say (untrue) positive things about a person. Coworker did not think my assessment was wrong. Coworker further offered that she could not give a non-positive recommendation to a person even if she hated them.
Readers, you don’t have to actually say anything negative to get a point across.
A person who wastes the reputation they earned by praising what is awful is showing no discretion and cannot be trusted.
I understand more of my coworker’s dilemmas now that I see her lack of discretion in non-financial spheres. I now know that, should my LLC ever need to hire someone, I cannot trust my coworker to direct anyone my way. Her desire to appear friendly has already harmed her, and she does not realize it.
I hope she finds a way to make the choices she desires.
In the meantime, I will learn from her.
What do you think? Would you give a recommendation based on personality and not skills?